The Providence Friars and Rhode Island Rams have played continuously since 1935; however, 85 years later this rivalry game will have to take a pause. It was announced this past Monday that the Friars and Rams would cancel their game this season amongst the COVID pandemic.
For the Friars, this decision makes all the sense in the world. The maximum games that each program can play this season is 27 (assuming they are participating in a tournament that would be 3 games). The Big East has stuck to the round-robin format of a 20-game conference schedule. So that leaves the Friars with 7 games. Three of those are already committed to the Maui Invitational held in Asheville, NC. Another game is dedicated for the Big East- Big 12 Challenge, where the Friars will travel to Texas to face TCU. As of now another game will be dedicated to the Big East- Big Ten challenge, where opponents have yet to be announced. So that would leave PC with 3 remaining games and given the strength of the Big East will want to fill those with “buy” games, if those will even exist this year. On top of all that the fact the game couldn’t be played at the Dunk in front of fans it makes all the sense to postpone a year.
For URI it doesn’t make as much sense and that is probably why David Cox said they tried their hardest to salvage the game.
I understand why Cox and the Rams want to keep the game. This is the type of game URI needs to have on their schedule to make a NCAA at-large bid. That is because the A-10 is also committed to a 20 game schedule and their league doesn’t nearly bring the top to bottom strength that the Big East boasts. On top of that they could play a “road game” essentially at a neutral site with no fans, then get PC to play at a sold out Ryan Center the year following.
Maybe if URI held the 74-58 edge in the all-time series they could have more of a say but too bad. PC would seem to have the advantage if the two teams faced off in December. While it will suck to not go to the Dunk for the Battle of the Ocean State, I’m just glad we are having college hoops this season and Rhody fans should be too.